The Sac-Joaquin Section released its playoff brackets for varsity basketball on Thursday.
Ceres High’s boys and Central Valley’s girls programs both secured berths to the Division-III tournament for the second year in a row.
The 17th-seeded Bulldogs will face No. 16 Cordova in a play-in out-bracket game tonight on the road at 7.
Ceres High, which compiled a 12-13 overall record and finished third in the Western Athletic Conference (8-4) during the regular season, will be led by senior Austin Stiles, junior Haaydn Martinez and sophomore Christian Garcia.
“We found out who we were playing during the middle of practice,” said Stiles, a third-year varsity player. “It’s super exciting. We just got to play hard, outhustle them. It’s not like league. You lose and you’re done.”
The Lancers, 16-11 and second in the Sierra Valley Conference (8-2), will be led by DeAnte Wilkins, Jason Novik and Damion Baldwin.
“We have to make every possession count,” Stiles said. “Defense is going to be the biggest key. We’re going to have to work hard.”
Stiles scored a team-high 16 points during 18th-seeded Ceres High’s 83-64 loss to No. 2 Vanden in the first round of the playoffs a season ago. The Bulldogs battled back from a 14-point deficit on their way to stunning No. 15 El Dorado 58-54 in an out-bracket game.
“El Dorado underestimated us last year,” Austin said.
Stiles plans to play football in college.
“I’ve been playing basketball my whole life,” he said. “It’s been my main sport. This could be my last game. I got to make the most out of it.”
The Hawks earned their fourth postseason berth in program history.
Fifteenth-seeded Central Valley will travel to Manteca to face No. 2 East Union on Feb. 23.
The WAC co-champion Hawks (18-8, 11-1) will be led by Mikayla Mabie, Alyssa Costa and Adriana Haynes.
“I’m confident in my team,” said Mabie, a third-year varsity standout with Central Valley. “We’re tough to beat when everything is clicking.”
The Valley Oak League champion Lancers (26-1, 14-0) will be led by Olivia Vezaldanos, Ruby Daube and Donja Payne.
East Union is making its 15th playoff appearance in 16 years.
Tipoff slated for 7 p.m.
Central Valley lost 65-30 to No. 2 Inderkum in the playoffs last year.
“We need to hustle and communicate,” Mabie said. “We got to work together.”